Matthew 5:4 — Blessed Mourning/Morning
I re-discovered this photo from the first time my dad visited my adopted city. It was after I saw an episode of Tidying up with Marie Kondo. This picture sparked joy for me.
Dad came to town for a church meeting. They were coming to Washington for some good old civic engagement. Yep, I learned to care about my community through my parents. I learned that voting mattered through them. Service & giving mattered to them, so I learned to appreciate the same. I got it honest.
This day marks the beginning of our coming to terms with our new reality. A few hours before, family & friends were called back to the hospice center that has taken such good care of him —and us — in dad’s final days on earth. Their call to us was was part of their routine. Receiving that call — after we, literally, just walked in the door from visiting him — was not in our plans. Not yet. We had just left his bedside. He had been silenced by a seizure the night before. His eyes were open, but we didn’t know if he could see or hear us. But, he would sign, and still stirred in his vessel. We had made peace with him at the end of a long day of visitors and a Sunday meal made by some of the best cooks in the world — this family. That weekend, there was the sweetest & gentle farewell from my nephew, Marcus — his grandson — who flew in to see his granddad. It was a surprise for dad that we know brought joy to dad’s still beating heart. They held hands. It was beautiful. It was part of this cycle of closure we must go through. Beautiful.
As that weekend ended, we got the call. I remember the peace of that moment, when we entered dad’s room. The hospice team had readied dad for his returning guests. He appeared to be sleeping — at heavenly peace. I also remember the tears of the moment as we, suddenly, came to terms with this new reality. My stepmom’s groan of loss & her love. His pastor, Rey & niece Sherrie and her hubby Harry & dear friend, Jack, all got back in cars & came back to say an official farewell at that peaceful place. The stillness of the hospice center is routinely broken by the next grieving family — it was our turn. And, for some reason, I remember thinking about those terminally ill people, in other rooms, who didn’t have someone there for them — but, for the hospice family… That’s God’s work.
We left dad’s temporary refuge — even had some laughs in the midst of the tears and reality. We returned to our homes to rest around midnight. Rest as we anticipated the calls that will need to be made. The arrangements that will need to be made. Flights. Flowers. And, yes, there was still some peace in the midst of it all. The house and the earth wouldn’t be the same.
It was one of those proverbial moments of mixed emotion for me. Sadness and relief. He couldn’t do the things he loved to do — worship, sing, serve, love, give — in the ways he was accustomed to doing for so many years of his life. Those restrictions weren’t his way of life. Pancreatic cancer — the silent killer, they call it — made his body incapable of doing so much; but, his spirit remained very capable. His service to us was the quiet peace he had demonstrated in those final days. He never wanted to be a burden. Dad, in his own way, prepared us for his inevitable departure (yep, we all have to leave here one day). Dad was already ready to vacate the mortal frame he was assigned — we just needed to catch up. So we did. And we celebrated his life, while mourning his departure.
He had already told us, in December, that if God was ready for him, he, too, was ready. You can’t argue with that steady acceptance of mortality. That’s what the peace that surpasses all understanding looks like.
It’s been a year and a day, since Robert Jones, Jr. (dad to me and my siblings) left us, physically, but his spirit flows and lingers amongst so many of us —even a year later.
I’m grateful for the kindness extended to me and my family over the years. I appreciate & felt the prayers of intercession over this past year. Even on this morning, I am/we are blessed. Blessed to see this day. Blessed to move in it. Blessed to be in it. While in mourning, it is still a blessing to see a new morning. As crazy as the headlines might be, it is a blessing to see this, and every day we get to see. Thank you God. Thank you for the people you have created who surround me. Thank you for the lessons you’ve taught me. Thank you for the blessings you have entrusted me with — and the opportunities to be a blessing, too.
This song speaks to me — I pray it speaks to you. #BeBlessed #BeGrateful #ThisDay